INTERVIEW: 3D printed digital composite startup Fortify raises further $10M

Fortify, a 3D printing startup specializing in Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM), has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by American venture capital firm Accel. Added to $2.5 million in seed funding raised in January, the company has now raised a total of $12.5 million this year.

Joining this Series A investment round were Neotribe, Prelude Ventures, and Mainspring Capital Partners. Speaking with Fortify VP of Applications and Co-Founder Karlo Delos Reyes, 3D Printing Industry discovers how the company is planning to invest the money into its operations, leading towards a beta machine launch in early 2020.

“We’ve achieved so much since our founding, and we’re eager to expand on our platform capabilities,” stated Josh Martin, the company’s CEO, in an official press release. “With the support of our investors, we will focus on innovation, bring our technology to new partners, and grow our product offerings.”

Building a Digital Composite Manufacturing ecosystem

Founded in 2016, Fortify is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and has patented a method of composite 3D printing named Fluxprint for which the company won the  2018 Formnext startup challenge.

Group photo of the Fortify team in Boston. Photo via Fortify
Group photo of the Fortify team in Boston. Photo via Fortify

Using magnets, the Fluxprint process precisely aligns composite fibers within a liquid material to tune desired mechanical properties in an end part.  Fiber alignment is determined by a user in the company’s INFORM fiber-optimization software. “Like all AM technologies,” Reyes explains “there will be a “design for DCM” component that our customers will adopt to get the full benefits.” Successive layers are built in Fluxprint using a digital light processing (DLP) based methodology.

Developing beyond the technology, Fortify will be using some of the recently raised funds to launch a Discovery Partner Program, giving select companies early access to DCM powered by Fluxprint. Indicating some of these potential clients, Reyes tells us, “We currently have great traction printing injection mold tools and are exploring other high performance tooling applications.” He also says that the company is exploring the application of DCM to produce high performance “moderate sized” end use parts such as electrical connectors, pump impellers, and other rotating components, adding “We plan to balance our beta units between these 2 classes of use cases.”

Broadly, Reyes explains that the funding will also be used to “to build out our team.” “We are looking forward to exploring and developing new, cutting-edge fiber-reinforced materials,” he adds, “and will work with our partners to discover applications where traditional additive has fallen short.”

Fortify DCM-made brake lever. Photo via Fortify
Fortify DCM-made brake lever. Photo via Fortify

Fortify Beta launch 2020

At present, Fortify is looking to launch a Beta DCM system in 2020, with general availability scheduled to start in 2021. It is still exploring different options for its business model and has not yet decided whether the system will be generally available for standalone purchase, or if it will be offered on a subscription based model. The Beta testing phase is expected to glean more details on this.

“Our main objective with this next phase is to round out the team and deliver beta units to key partners we can work closely with to optimize the user experience,” Reyes concludes.

Eric Wolford, venture partner at Accel, adds, “Fortify is uniquely positioned to help lead the resurgence of American manufacturing by using tech to produce best-in-class parts for the digital age. We’re thrilled to support the entire Fortify team as they continue to set a new standard in manufacturing.”

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Featured image shows a Fortify DCM-made component. Photo via Fortify